Millions of women use “shapewear” to help smooth unsightly rolls and bumps. The elastic, slimming apparel is now a huge industry and the brand “Spanx” is the most popular brand.

Unfortunately, for many individuals who use shapewear on a regular basis, the changes may not just be skin deep. Recent criticism from doctors has suggested that shapewear may be bad for your health.

If the shapewear is too tight or worn too long, it can compress internal organs and interfere with bodily systems like digestion. Some individuals notice worsening reflux and heartburn, or even excessive bloating and gas. The tightening around the waist can lead to meralgia paresthetica, a neurological condition resulting in pain, tingling, and numbness in the legs. The tight-fitting garb can also trap moisture leading to yeast or bacterial infections, inflammation of the hair follicles, and even bladder infections.

While I’d love to simply say “love your body and let your true self shine,” the ever-increasing societal pressures for women (and men) to look a certain way will continue to drive the sales of shapewear. That’s why professionals recommend finding a size that fits properly and reserving the shapewear for special occasions.

However, if you’re truly uncomfortable or dissatisfied with your appearance and health, it’s time to make another type of change first. You can get your entire body feeling and looking better by committing to a balanced diet and a regular exercise regime. Start there, and then once you feel more comfortable, throw away the Spanx!